Urban Indians face greater heart disease risk: Study

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September 24, 2012

Urban lifestyles are making more young Indians prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer, according to a Marico Ltd study. Bangalore ranked at the top for high cholesterol levels.

September 24, 2012

Urban lifestyles are making more young Indians prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer, according to a Marico Ltd study. Bangalore ranked at the top for high cholesterol levels.

Around 74 per cent of urban Indians face the risk of heart attack, with their heart age greater than biological age.

A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor eating habits are making millions of urban Indians at high risk of heart disease, a study by a Mumbai-based consumer products company has revealed.

According to Apollo Hospitals cardiologist Girish B. Navasundi, urban India is moving from infectious diseases to lifestyle diseases due to lack to physical activity and poor food. The findings come from a Marico Ltd study conducted online in 12 cities across the country from 2010-12.

Hectic city lifestyles are making more young Indians prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Navasundi added that the lack of physical activity and reduced fiber intake are also two main reasons for the increased risk of life-threatening diseases.

Around 74 percent of urban Indians face the risk of heart attack, many with “heart ages” greater than their biological ages. Similarly, 75 percent of 30 to 34-year-old males have coronary symptoms compared to just 57 percent of females, demonstrating that the younger male work force is falling prey to such diseases, Navasundi pointed out. As a result, productivity of urban India will decline and impact on the country's long-term growth.

The “Saffola life study 2012,” carried out on the lines of the US-based Framingham heart study, covered over 112,000 people in the 30-80 age group in a dozen cities.

The Indian project is based on the Framingham heart study, a project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University in Massachusetts.

Among the findings, Bangalore ranked at the top for high cholesterol levels, Chennai for diabetes, Kolkata for cancer due to highest number of smokers, Ahmedabad for anemia due to poor intake of fruits and Delhi for obesity due to lack of exercise and high consumption of fatty foods.

Around 75 percent of Bangalore respondents facing cardiovascular disease risk are overweight, 78 percent of whom have very high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Seventy-two percent of this population consume less than two servings of healthy whole grains a day, Navasundi said.

Manjari Chandra, a Nutritionists Republic consultant, said cardiovascular deaths were projected to touch a whopping 2.5 million by 2020, up from 1.1 million in 1990, a majority of them of working age (30-44).

Nationally, 59 percent of those surveyed in the 30-49 age group has high risk levels of cholesterol; 61 percent in the 30-49 age group has dangerously low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, Chandra told IANS.

The Mumbai city skyline is seen from a seaside promenade.

Among the respondents, one in six were smokers in the younger age group.

Smoking increases blood pressure and releases free radicals which are detrimental to heart health. In the 30-34 age group, 96 percent disclosed that they were taking blood pressure medication to minimize the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Navasundi noted.

Cautioning against high dependence on processed and fried foods, Chandra said a menu devoid of vegetables, fruits and whole grains makes people vulnerable to heart disease.

Of the respondents in the 30-49 age group, 66 percent reported higher heart age than actual age due to obesity and rising body mass index, showing an increasing trend with age.

At the national level, about 70 percent of respondents are obese; Delhi emerged as the overweight capital, followed by Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Delhi also emerged as the fried-food capital with 14 percent of participants admitting to consuming it more than four times a week.

During the last three years, Marico conducted free diagnostic tests on those who were unaware of their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

"The objective of the survey is to spread awareness of the heart ailments risk in the country and make a holistic attempt to reduce deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases," a Marico official told IANS.

The study also found that 64 percent of respondents in the 30-34 age group were at the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, indicating that a significant proportion of youngsters face the disease.

"In people between 40 and 44 years of age, the percentage of 'at risk' population goes up to about 80 percent," the study noted.

As far as dietary habits and lifestyles go, the 40-44 age group is highly negligent.

"Low consumption of fruits, vegetables, salads, whole grains together with low levels of physical activity will affect heart health," the survey warned.

The cardiovascular risk is uniform across cities. Bangalore and Delhi struggle with bad cholesterol, while Mumbai and Ahmedabad are failing to maintain a good cholesterol levels.

Physical activity is at an all-time low. Ahmedabad was found to be the worst in both physical activity and consumption of fruit.


Courtesy: IANS (Fakir Balaji can be contacted at fakir.b@ians.in)